Let Silence Prevail

As humans, one of our basic instincts is to communicate. Whether it is with the retailer to whom we need to intimate of the items to be billed from our cart, or the vendor on the street corner from whom we buy veggies. Whether it is a friend who we see daily or a mother, who flies down from afar once every year. The measure of our conversations varies from being transactional to a prolonging one in nature depending on the circle of participants we are with. However, whether a gesture of one’s hands or flexing one’s lips, there is no doing-about without conversing. Either way, our need to talk about even straightforward and random contrivances signifies of a codependent ecosystem we – as humans – belong to. Irrespective of how many of us flaunt that faddish tag of independence.

Communication can happen in clusters in a crowded area like a bus stand, in a closed group at a cafeteria, or face-to-face over a coffee break. Every human is privileged with an ability to communicate in some way or the other. They’re endowed with freedom to express just about anything. All one needs to do is unbolt the passage that leads from their lip to the throat, produce a sound, beat their tongue against the gums and set in motion their jaws. Or, work their fingers in a manner so flexible that the movements seem as graceful as that of a swan gliding over a lake. A conversation holds the power of articulation and reciprocating to such  eloquent expressions. It authorises a spark within, igniting an influential aura with the potential to convince someone. Into believing. And following that system of belief.

Photo: Hemu’s Art Blog

But, of course, with great power comes great responsibility. With a blessed privilege comes a cursed abuse. Where there is freedom, there lies a liability too.

Of a misused birthright.

If not for a one-on-one, most chit-chats that happen in closed groups by default bear at least one leading conversationalist. Sometimes, two. Or three. The others pin their ears and are content with pitching in and emoting time after time. They secure a sense of belonging that way. It is like wanting to be a part of the sky, even if it means getting to silhouette the skyline. An unexpected moment of receiving the baton to carry on the conversation further leads them into a spot of discomfort. They attempt in all consciousness to be concise of their points of views and pass the baton back to the chief addresser or another member at the first unused opportunity they can seep through. As dubious as it might sound, such people are either uncomfortable in groups or are misfit talkers. Or both.

Kashi Art Cafe
Photo: Shiva Krishna

The key communicator(s) meanwhile, relish the attention they receive. Faces turn their way, all eyes are on them, heads nod, and little clucking noises fill the air occasionally to signify of the listeners’ sync into the verbal awareness that’s presented. One can’t help but feel awestruck the modes such communicator(s) apply to engage their audience. Their fluency and prowess over the language are worth falling for. They speak, and not one interrupts. They catch-up with a select few in the group, and somehow retrieve the magic wand back into their court to speak some more, time and again. Over time, they substantiate their thought-process with archives or profound parallels, much so that after a while the attention of some listeners begins to ebb away. The mask of their disjointed belonging begins to go out on a limb. Their attention wavers and boredom starts to set in. When this process begins its rounds of repetition every time, or probably over days, weeks and months, the interim listeners crave to be handed with the baton just one more time. Because then, all they would have ideally liked to say would have been – Shush, I have a headache.

After all, with great power comes great responsibility. With a blessed privilege comes a cursed abuse. Where there is freedom, there lies a liability too.

Of a misused birthright.

Photos: Kashi Art Cafe & Mill Hall, Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kochi

One thought on “Let Silence Prevail

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